Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

Special to the Valley News

Soboba Tribal Preschool students arrived at the Soboba Sports Complex parking lot by bus to make their way through the row of displays full of friendly faces and lots of candy at a trunk-or-treat event on Halloween, Monday, Oct. 31. The children enjoyed drive-thru events for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, so many said they were happy to show off their costumes in person this time around.

The parking lot was lined on two sides with trunks or tables set up by Soboba departments and Tribal member families who welcomed the youngsters during the early morning event. Later that night, the children went trick or treating around the Soboba Indian Reservation at designated houses, which were listed on a map as being available to visit.

Marian Chacon said she was expecting about 200 children that evening and offered candy to the preschoolers while dressed as a friendly witch. She planned to visit St. Jude Mission School that afternoon to give out candy to the children there as well.

“There are so many good costumes; I can’t pick just one favorite,” she said about the parade of preschoolers dressed as superheroes, cartoon characters and princesses, to name a few.

Some parents also wore costumes as they accompanied their children through the various stations.

The first stop to greet youngsters when they got off the bus was a salute to Disney’s “Encanto” animated movie musical. Designed and decorated by Soboba’s executive offices, Soboba Tribal Council and the Soboba Foundation, it featured a colorful display and some candy-givers dressed in character.

Soboba human resources shared a video game theme with employees dressed as Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., and Sobona Family Services offered a colorful display that reminded everyone to be kind. Family Services Director Alicia Golchuk said they wanted to provide messages of positivity and kindness, not just candy.

Alice Helms, 90, is the Tribe’s eldest Elder, and she said she was happy to interact with the costumed children as they stopped at the Elders’ station that celebrated all things Spiderman.

“I was a preschool teacher for 26 years, so I like to see the little ones come through here,” Helms said.

She taught for the HeadStart program and helped start the Soboba Tribal Preschool by assisting them to get all the items she knew they needed based on her many years of experience.

Cultural Resource Department personnel created a graveyard scene and two representatives from Public Works were happy to take time out of their busy schedules to treat the kids. Antonia Briones-Venegas and the rest of the Frybread Kitchen crew were handing out lots of sweet goodies, and Noli Indian School science teacher Jay Dagostino, wearing a zombie Obama mask, worked with the Associated Study Body, Early Childhood Development and AVID students to set up a candy booth.

Sylvan Learning has provided afterschool tutoring through the Soboba TANF program since 2016 but was operating a treat-filled trunk for the first time. Angela Palmer and Allison Krickl said they were delighted to meet some of Soboba’s youngest students at the event.

Individual families set up their trunks opposite the departmental displays, including Marian Chacon and members of the Gabe Garcia family.

“Both of my babies are in the preschool, so I signed up,” Krysti Castello said.

Carrie Garcia, representing the Garcia/Swan families, wanted to share in the holiday spirit as part of the community, she said. Her daughter is a pre-kindergarten student at the school. She said the Soboba Basketweaving group also helped at her station, for which she was grateful.

“We participate every year,” John Briones, sporting a Batman theme, said of his family’s involvement. The Lindsey family hosted a “haunted fire station” theme as a nod to Glenn Lindsey, who works for the Soboba Fire Department. Firefighters also attended, handing out treats from their candy-filled helmets.

Adona Salgado, who owns and operates Se’ish Design flower company, said she wanted to be part of the event because her grandchildren attend the preschool. Since all five of her grandchildren are under the age of five, she decided to create a Charlie Brown “Great Pumpkin” display. The Placencia family participated including eight-month-old Talla, who was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood.

Members of the Department of Public Safety also offered a trunk-or-treat experience and were joined by members of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, wearing their work clothes so no costumes were needed.

Several other Tribal members and departments contributed to the fun and excitement for preschoolers and their siblings. They left with full containers of treats after about 45 minutes. The children, with their parents in tow, were encouraged to say thank you at each stop as they moved onto the next station.